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Discussion in 'Industry News' started by pdeeh, Aug 27, 2013.
Very interesting. Based off of the order form it seems to me like The Darkroom might be doing the processing work.
I noticed their lab is in San Clemente, California, and the order form looks suspiciously like the one used by The Darkroom, which is also located in San Clemente. I wonder if The Darkroom is involved?
"The Darkroom" is, by all appearances, simply an on-line marketing tool of Swan Photo Labs
which is located at 946-A Calle Amanecer, about two miles from my home. I've been a resident of San Clemente for 35 years and can confirm there is no other processing lab in this city. Swan has become the major D&P facility used by stores, camera and otherwise, up and down the US west coast, as many labs closed. With "The Darkroom," it probably captured even more business via mail-in work from around the US. This latest expansion into Ilford branding of its services will likely make Swan even more successful.
I'm struck by the coincidence of across-the-pond HARMAN, which has become my favorite (and almost exclusive) black and white materials supplier, entering into an agreement with a lab right here in my neighborhood. Small world indeed!
Yes, checking all three websites, Swan, The Darkroom and Ilford U.S., that certainly does seem to be the case. Ilford does seem to be somewhat more expensive for comparable services so, other than the fancy boxes and envelopes with "Ilford" printed on them when you get your film back, I wonder if there is any difference in quality? All three use Ilford paper for B&W prints.
Swan Labs uses Clayton F76+ film developer.
The WHOIS data for The Darkroom confirms this, as the registrant is one Keith Swan.
I find it funny that The Darkroom tries to present themselves as small and independent, when they're actually owned by one of the largest labs in the US.
Still, I do see this as a positive step. Any investment in traditional photography is welcome, and Ilford/Harman has done a lot in that regard. Swan being behind all three doesn't bother me, as long as they continue to keep quality up to their current levels (both the Swan and The Darkroom brands). It would kind of suck if the Ilford processing was the same as the others, just with prettier packaging, for a higher price. However, if anything with the Ilford processing is different, then the slightly higher price is justified. Would the average consumer see the difference in film processed in Ilford chemistry as opposed to Clayton? Maybe. Maybe not. But at least it is different, so it would not be an attempt to be deceptive on the part of Swan/The Darkroom/Ilford.
Per the Ilford website: "Our film processors are strictly controlled and the black and white machines use ILFORD chemistry."
Perhaps they will do a separate run with Ilford chemistry (unlikely) or switch to Ilford (more likely).
Switching to Ilford chemistry is probably part of the deal. F76+ is a capable developer as it is though.
I saw that. The Clayton chemistry reference I found on their web site earlier today: http://www.swanphotolabs.com/swan08/services.php
Scroll down to Black & White Processing & Printing
Do labs like this process all films of a similar ISO at one standard time or do they process Tri-X at one time and HP5 at another? Also was Swan already using Ilford paper? Are there other companies that would even sell rolls of paper that they could use? (assuming that they print with a minilab type set up)
The lab I worked at many moons ago processed all films in a programmable processor, so that films with the same developing time were on the same rack. That means that, for example, Ilford HP5+ might be processed together with Kodak Plus-X, (assuming they had the same dev time).
I assume this is what Swan does too. Either that or they just rely on the latitude of the film.
While this page
does refer to Clayton, any new agreement with HARMAN could easily include a requirement that ILFOTEC DD be used going forward. It seems unlikely that there's sufficient black and white film processing demand to warrant draining and refilling the Refrema on a regular basis, and I doubt Swan will dedicate two Refremas to black and white. More likely is that the above-linked page will be updated to reflect DD.
Whoaa! I said Swan has appeared to thrive by picking up business abandoned by many closing labs. Those other labs closed because their volume had dropped precipitously. I didn't say Swan is "one of the largest labs in the US." 946-A Calle Amanecer refers to Unit A in one tilt-up building (946) of a local business park. It's small.
To ensure there's no misinterpretation of my intent, please note that I find the successful entrepreneurial approach of Swan, including its new affiliation with HARMAN, to be a good thing. Soaring small businesses are what have brought us the degree of economic recovery experienced so far; they will continue to lead the way in the future.
Swan already uses Ilford paper for traditional B&W, as does The Darkroom. For color and maybe for C41 B&W like XP2 (never used them for XP2, so not sure. It may be run and printed on the same line as color) Swan and The Darkroom use Kodak paper.
Perhaps Simon from Harman Technology will step in and clarify. I, too, find it difficult to imagine Swan running two separate B&W lines, one with Ilford chemistry and the other with Clayton. It seems much more economically feasible to just switch B&W processing in their lab to Ilford, as that's what being an "Ilford" lab requires. So, that would then lead us back to one of the original questions: What would justify the added expense of Ilford-branded processing if it's done in the same lab, using the same chemicals and printed on the same machines using the same paper as film sent to them under the Swan or The Darkroom banners? I love Ilford, but I'm not so sure that something like, "The difference is Ilford quality control" would be enough to sway me to pay the extra bucks, as Swan seems to have awesome quality control already.
Maybe one service is scan and print and the other is print optically?
I'm sure there are quality control procedures and even the grade of paper used that could justify pricing differences.
My C-class Mercedes comes from the same dealer and maker as an SL. But there is a marked difference between the two.
I thank god there is new black and white processing available in the U.S. !
This is indeed an exciting development....the rolling out of the first ILFORD Lab outside the UK I will issue all the press information when it is ready, this should have all the information you need.
Simon ILFORD Photo / HARMAN technology Limited
The small lab I use offers 7 different B & W developers and their turn around time is very fast so I dont see why other labs cant do this.
Have you ever seen a big Refrema with replenished chemistry? Tanks that are three feet deep and hold gallons of developer. These machines are large and difficult to alter once they're set up. The replenished developer is tightly controlled with control strips (if done right). To keep the balance between the bromides and other byproducts, a certain amount of replenisher is added to the system. Containers that hold the chemicals sit on racks and they are replenished on the fly.
The racks that hold the film, which are also about 3 feet tall, are moved mechanically from tank to tank: developer, stop bath, fixer, rinse, hypo clear, wash, dry. It's a very impressive system, and when done right the results are amazing.
Look one up online, and there's your answer.
As promised : Press release regarding ILFORD Lab USA http:goo.glowBokP
Simon ILFORD Photo / HARMAN technology Limited
My error sorry
That page has now been updated as predicted.
Okay Simon, your first complaint .
The website has two flags at the top right - a US flag and a Canadian flag - plus a link that says "Not in the US?" which takes you to the UK site.
All of Canada is "Not in the US".
It is missing the CAN part. In the UK site, it says "US/CAN?". On the US site it should read: "Not in the US/CAN?".